2005 bay Mustang mare
Type of Rescue: Animal Control Seizure
Intake Date: 10/8/2019
Date of Passing: 6/25/2020
Length of Time with SAFE: 8 months
Wind was a 14 year old mare with a BLM tattoo on her neck who looks more like a petite Paso Fino than a Mustang. Sadly, Wind suffered significant neglect by her prior owner, facing starvation, pregnancy, and neglect, as well as a serious health problem that was being ignored. In October of 2019, Wind was seized by animal control officers in King County, due to her declining condition while living in a large herd of horses. Wind has the dropped pasterns that indicate a degenerative condition called DSLD. This is turn made it difficult for her to move around in the overgrazed paddock she shared with the group, and she could not adequately feed herself, resulting in severe weight loss.
Wind came to SAFE so that we could give her a short period of good care and happiness before she was laid to rest. She made a remarkable recovery from her neglect, and we soon realized that she wasn’t ready to go. She was with us for eight wonderful months and she left on her own terms. Caring for this beautiful mare was truly an honor, and she will never be forgotten.
We have some sad news to share with you. We lost our dear friend Wind unexpectedly last week. She was found deceased in her pasture at her foster home. We can’t know what happened, but we do know a few things. First off, there does not appear to have been a struggle. There was no sign of thrashing or any injuries. It looks like she passed peacefully. We also know that she appeared happy and healthy right up to her last morning, so her passing was likely quick and we don’t think she suffered for any length of time.
The thing that gives us the most comfort is knowing that for the last 8 plus months of her life, Wind was well cared for and loved by many. SAFE took her in as a hospice case after she was rescued from a terrible situation by animal control. Before meeting her, our plan was to give her a few good months to know love and good food, then let her go peacefully on some sunny afternoon before the pain from her joint disease became too much to bear. But once we met her and saw how well she moved around, we knew that she wasn’t ready to say goodbye just yet. We got her back up to weight, introduced her to some new friends, and basically did the best we could to make sure she lived a happy life of leisure. The intention was to keep a close eye on her degenerative condition and help her cross over that bridge when the time was right. But Wind spared us having to make that decision, which is a kindness we’re grateful for.
Wind chose a gorgeous, early summer day to leave us. She was surrounded by horse and donkey friends in a huge pasture full of lush green grass. And she knew love.
Years of neglect can take their toll on a horse’s body. Starvation and high parasite loads (both of which Wind suffered from) can do irreversible damage to heart muscle. We don’t know if that was the reason for her passing, but it seems as likely a possibility as any. And if her heart did just give out, that is a very quick and peaceful way to go.
Thank you, Wind, for letting us get to know your sweet personality and allowing us to be “your people” for the last chapter in your life. We will love you always ❤️
Sometimes things go as planned, and sometimes plans can change. Before Wind arrived at SAFE, our staff reviewed prior vet records, spoke with animal control officials, and made the unanimous decision to welcome her into our hospice program. We prepared ourselves to meet a horse who was in some amount of pain, although we weren’t sure how much yet, and to give her the best life we could for a short period of time before laying her to rest on some pre-determined, beautiful, sunny day.
But the horse we met the day she arrived at our farm in October was not the same horse we met on paper. Yes, she has advanced degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis and her movement looks abnormal because of it. But the low level of daily pain medication that she’s on seems to be doing the trick in keeping her comfortable, and she’s told us that she’s quite a happy girl. She is not yet ready to leave this world.
Wind loves turnout time, her friend Mara, and rolling in the soft arena dirt. She is also learning to enjoy the companionship of people and she has a few human friends who groom her several times each week. She is up to a good weight now and her coat is sleek and shiny. She’s living the good life. And she has a dedicated staff who monitor her every day for any sign of change in her comfort level.
Because Wind’s condition in degenerative, our original plan to take her in as a hospice case has not changed. But the timeline has been altered. We no longer have a pre-determined date in our heads of when to say goodbye. When we notice that this current level of pain medication is no longer enough, we will make the call to let her go at that time. If we see any deterioration in her condition, we will not ask her to endure pain just because we’ve grown to adore her. We will do what we have promised her from the very beginning: make sure she knows love and and make sure she doesn’t suffer.
For now, though, Wind is as happy as can be and enjoying every moment.
Wind is falling deep into the hearts of all of us at SAFE. She is inquisitive, friendly and always comes to say hello when we come to her window or paddock. Dr. Fleck came out to assess her last week and told us we can switch from Bute to Tramadol/Bute so it will be easier on her system. We have started with a low dose of tramadol and will see if that’s enough to keep her comfortable. Here are some photos of this precious mare on her first week with us:
Horses are remarkably resilient animals. Time after time, we’ve seen horses who are able to recover from terrible neglect, pulled back from the brink of death to transform back into the strong, healthy creatures they were always meant to be. These horses inspire us and give us the strength we need to keep going when things seem hopeless.
And then there are horses who need more from us. The ones who ask us to be brave, to put our personal feelings aside and focus on what they truly need. The ones who won’t be able to reward our work with a fabulous transformation. Horses who have lived through too much. And despite all their heart and courage, expecting them to bounce back and get better is just too much to ask.
For horses such as these, we created our Hospice Program. It turns out that “hospice” is a misnomer, at least in how the word applies to humans. But the essence of our program is this: to provide a period of happiness, good care, and love to a deserving horse, then help them pass on with dignity. It’s not something that is appropriate for a horse that is currently suffering pain, discomfort, or distress. But in a small number of cases, we have a window of time to show a horse what a good life feels like before setting them free.
Wind is one of those sweet and deserving horses.
Wind is a 14 year old mare with a BLM tattoo on her neck who looks more like a petite Paso Fino than a Mustang. She’s a cute little thing, with a big star and a kind expression. She’s a bit shy, but she seems to want to seek out a connection with the people who are caring for her.
Sadly, Wind has suffered significant neglect in the past few years, facing starvation, pregnancy, and neglect, as well as a serious health problem that was being ignored. About 30 days ago, Wind was seized by animal control officers in King County, due to her declining condition while living in a large herd of horses. Wind has the dropped pasterns that indicate a degenerative condition called DSLD. This is turn made it difficult for her to move around in the overgrazed paddock she shared with the group, and she could not adequately feed herself, resulting in severe weight loss. She was signed over to SAFE on Tuesday and transported here along with three other horses from the same herd that ended up being seized in Pierce County.
Wind is here at SAFE so that we can give her a short period of good care and happiness before she is laid to rest. It is very important to understand that the moment we see signs that Wind is in that we cannot manage, we will let her go. Until that time comes, we will work closely with our vets at Rainland Farm Equine Clinic to provide Wind with the palliative care she needs to remain comfortable.
At this moment in time, Wind is being kept comfortable with medication. We’ve seen her lie down and get back up, and we’ve seen that she can move around her stall and paddock without too much trouble. Her eyes are bright, she is curious and friendly, and she is eating with enthusiasm. At this moment, Wind is not telling us that she is ready to go. With vigilant attention being paid to her every day by our staff and volunteers, her comfort and happiness will be our first priority. And we can let this little mare know that she deserves to be treated with love, respect, and caring. Wind will be surrounded by the love and care of our volunteer community and the well wishes of our supporters.
It’s hard to accept that Wind is not going to get better, but this is the reality of her situation. She has a degenerative disease that cannot be cured, and which will get worse over time. We are not going to ask her to hang on for our sake or for anyone else’s. We have no intention of letting her decline, or waiting until her condition becomes too much for her to bear. We will choose to let her go on a good day, free from stress and anxiety, and she will pass with dignity, surrounded with love.
This is a difficult situation, but we have taken a lot into consideration, and have made this choice in agreement with our veterinarians and with animal control. We’re making a big promise to this horse, and we won’t let her down. She is in the perfect place to receive the love and care that she deserves. We know that it’s a lot to ask of our volunteers, but we also know that they are the sort of people who will put their own feelings aside in order to do what is right for Wind. We can all be brave for her.